Wrapped Up in the Heart of God By a 5-Year-Old

07/29/14

Our team had been through 10 full days of work in Sierra Leone, filled with opportunities to remind staff, pastors, and local community leaders that the best way to love God was by loving others. 

Our team of pastors and mentors at COTN's Banta campus in Sierra Leone
Our team had a great time mentoring pastors and leaders in Sierra Leone. But I longed to connect with the children as well.
 
As we departed COTN’s campus in Banta and headed for Freetown, I longed to put these teachings into practice by spending more time with the children. They are, after all, the reason behind my passion in ministry. I knew that my role as COTN’s spiritual care director meant investing in leadership development, but I love connecting with the children as well. God would answer this longing in an unexpected way, when I got to Freetown. 
 
After a short, six-hour drive through the countryside, we entered the busy streets of Freetown. The van drove up a dirt road, (if you could even call it that), to COTN’s Freetown ministry site, where hundreds of local children attend our private Christian school. It was an opportunity to see the place where this ministry began 19 years ago. This would be our last stop before departing for home. 
 
Upon arrival, we took some time to tour the building and visit the staff. Then we made our way to the classrooms. We introduced ourselves to each class and explained that we were there to share a message from the USA that we love them and are praying for them. In each room, I noticed children whose eyes lit up each time we said "we love you," and to my surprise, some even dared speak back saying "we love you, too!" 
 
The crowded courtyard at COTN's Marjay Town school
In the crowds of children at COTN's school, I could identify with how Jesus must have felt when he went from town to town during his ministry.
 
An hour later, the courtyard was full of children enjoying recess. They were singing, skipping rope, playing soccer, and eating snacks. As I stepped into the courtyard, I was immediately surrounded by children. I could totally identify with what Jesus must have felt when crowds pressed in around him. I could hardly move. 
 
And then, God presented the moment I longed for during the whole trip. As the crowd of children continued to press in, I felt an unmistakable touch from a small, soft hand on the underside of my upper arm—a deliberate touch that a specific child had placed there. 
 
Like Jesus’ experience recorded in Luke 8*, I said, “Who touched me?” 
 
The children, about 50 or so, must have thought “oops, I touched him,” as they noticed that I was intent on finding one of them. They thought they were in trouble, as all of them were trying to get to me, to play and sing. But I had a sense that someone really needed attention and went seeking out that child. 
 
Looking around, my eyes connected with the sorrowful eyes of a little 5-year-old boy. I invited him to sit next to me and hold my hand. A moment passed, then one of his classmates whispered in my ear, “his Daddy died last night.” He was spending his first fatherless day alone among a crowd of classmates, quietly mourning his loss.
 
Compelled by God's fatherly love, I picked him up and prayed for him
"His daddy died last night," someone told me. Compelled by God's fatherly love, I picked him up and prayed for his fragile heart and his life ahead.
 
Love and compassion overwhelmed my heart. Broken and compelled by God’s fatherly love, I picked him up in my arms and prayed for his fragile heart and his life ahead. His arms squeezed tight around my neck while we just hugged for what seemed like days. It was a Jesus moment I’ll never forget, that reminded me why God called me to this ministry in the first place. 
 
It was a Jesus moment I’ll never forget, that reminded me why God called me to t
     It was a Jesus moment I'll never forget, that reminded me why God called me to this ministry in the first place. 
 
And as our vehicle drove away, moments later, I knew God had showed me that reaching out for hope takes courage. But reaching back in love is at the center of His heart. And when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more spiritual than being wrapped up into the heart of God.      
 
Show God's love to a child in need. Sponsor a child today. 
 
* Luke 8:45 - 46a 
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, so many are crowding against you. . . . ” 
But Jesus told him, “No, it was someone who deliberately touched me."